The Gizmondo As A Modern Handheld Console

Right then a slightly bigger write up of the Gizmondo scene as it is today. After a thorough few days of investigation.

Firstly these things still seem to be fairly easy to buy from both Amazon and eBay. Funnily enough Amazon does seem to be slightly cheaper. I got mine for about forty quid as I was aware that at least there used to be a homebrew scene once people learned how to run unsigned code.

More about the Gizmondo can be read here:

Gizmondo

Reviews from 2005 when the handheld was initially released can be found here:

Gizmondo handheld games console – The Register

Gizmondo: Hardware – Eurogamer

Tiger Telematics Gizmondo – Cnet

I think on the whole kindly scathing would probably described most of these reviews. Especially as the original console cost over £200 when purchased in the proper unsubsidised form.

So anyway.

The Devices and Desires Gizmondo Review 2008

Initial Impressions

Purchased brand new in box from Amazon UK for about £40. Seller excellent. Item looked it it was fresh from the liquidators warehouse. Opened up big box and found an oddly attractive looking unit. Some fishing around discovered a vodafone sim card, power supply, nasty earphones, a small tree of paper telling about all the exciting adverts I was going to receive, battery and a cd rom.

It fitted my giant hands quite well considering. The d-pad on the left was stiff but usable, the four face buttons on the right had a bit too much travel and noise for my liking but did the job. The buttons seem to be designed to place your thumb right over the tiny tinny speaker which is about as much use as a politician. The odd buttons above the screen (home, brightness, volumes, triangleness, power) are awful. I find them very awkward to use. There are ports and slots at the bottom for a usb connection, headphones, power and sd card. The gizmondo happily accepted my 2 gig sd card. There is a little connector under the battery cover, I have no idea what it is for.

The instructions were no use. The Gizmondo is basically a Windows CE (imagine Pocket PC) device with a custom skin optimised for gaming. The cd rom was to install microsoft activesync to allow data (contacts, photos etc) to be synced between your computer and handheld.

Blah blah blah

You can read all this. Lets cut to the moaning.

GPS

Does not work for me. I had it out in my back garden on a fairly cloud free day. It detected about three satellites and told me it could not get a fix on its location. Apparently there is some homebrew software to twiddle with the power settings of the GPS chip but I am having difficulty fidning it as the homebrew scene seems to be in meltdown.

Also to use an extension cable antenna thing you must have a cradle. I managed to buy a useless antenna off eBay as i did not search the forums carefully enough.

Homebrew Scene

If you install service pack b (took me about 10 minutes to find and download and about 5 minutes to install) you can run unsigned code, which includes *cough* game backups. A friend of mine did this and told me the limited number of games available were a mixed bag. His favourite was Sticky Balls. Which sounds a lot more unpleasant than it actually is.

Some games available are beta releases.

The emulators seem to be frozen in development. Someone called The Reaper UK created a huge number of programs. Also there are quite a few emulators. Many seem to be in an unfinished state. Some require the Giz to be in Windows CE mode which frankly I could not be bothered setting up. GizSNES and DrMD seem to work quite well for SNES games and Mega Drive games respectively. Which is all I was bothered about since I wanted to play Final Fantasy 6.

Some sites which still seem to be alive include:

Welcome To GizzedINC !

Gizmondo Central

Gizmondo forums were working until recently. It may just be my connection. A site called gizfiles promises to be up and running soon

On a toss up between this or a GP2X I would spend the extra money on a GP2X. Or frankly save more money and wait till Pandora comes out.

Messaging

The Gizmondo is designed to have a SIM card inside. This should allow for a GPRS / GSM data connection. Essentially everything an old mid range phone can do except make phone calls. I have no idea how well this works as mine is not working with the bundled Vodafone card. This may be because the card is so old they have deactivated them all or possibly something to do with it being a Smart Adds console and the Smart Adds system not working. If I see a cheap Vodafone SIM card I will try another one and see what happens.

Multimedia Playback

Not very good. Frame rate is a bit too slow when the action speeds up. MP3 playback is good enough if there is nothing else. On the other hand it is a nice size and a bit of a multifunction device. If you have limited space it would probably make a good enough all rounder.

Will add pictures later.

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One response to “The Gizmondo As A Modern Handheld Console

  1. Hi Doug, if you’re interested in more news about Gizmondo and my exlusive interviews with Carl Freer, who founded the company and who is now in the process of relaunching it, check out my blogg The Nordic Link at
    http://sandberghans.blogspot.com/
    Best regards,
    Hans Sandberg

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